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Local News

July 1, 2013

Three appointed to Oklahoma Arts Council

Sharples named executive director

OKLAHOMA CITY – — Three individuals have been appointed to the Oklahoma Arts council, by  Governor Mary Fallin.

They are Lee Allan Smith, Tricia Everest and Desmond Mason.

OAC, a state agency, leads in the support and development of Oklahoma’s arts and cultural industry. It is a 15-member board that provides oversight of the agency’s grants and services.

Their appointment was approved by the state Senate in May. Smith and Everest each service on the Council when the agency’s fiscal year begins July 1.

He began his service immediately upon Senate approval, replacing renowned opera singer Leona Mitchell on the Council.

“We’re excited and honored to have Lee Allan Smith join our Council,” Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said. “He has been a true champion of our state, tirelessly promoting and celebrating the Oklahoma spirit, which is exactly what local artists and arts organizations do. Having his voice and experience on our board will be invaluable to Oklahoma’s arts industry.”

Smith is chairman of Oklahoma Events, a full service event production firm. His past service includes stints as vice chairman of Ackerman McQueen, chairman of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and past president and board member of Allied Arts of Oklahoma.

In addition to his board service, Smith has helped organize several memorable Oklahoma events in recent years including the grand re-opening of the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall in 2002, the dedication of the Oklahoma state Capitol dome in 2002, and the State of Oklahoma Centennial Celebration in 2007.

Among Smith’s honors are the Oklahoma City Public School Foundation’s Humanitarian Award, induction into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

  Former Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General and current Of-Counsel with Gable Gotwals, Tricia Everest of Oklahoma City brings a background in law to the agency.

“Because our agency manages much of the Capitol artwork and deals with copyright, ownership, and other legal matters related to the artwork, Tricia’s expertise can be invaluable,” Sharples said. “She also brings a great deal of experience in service on the boards of local foundations and nonprofits.”

Everest is involved with a variety of community projects and causes. She is Advisory Board Chairman of the Inasmuch Foundation; a trustee of Oklahoma City University; a director of Allied Arts; a director for Mercy Hospital; Vice-Chair of YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City; and, a member of the Board of Visitors for the OU College of Law.

Oklahoma City artist and former Oklahoma City Thunder star Desmond Mason will provide a unique and valuable perspective for the agency, according to Sharples.

“Desmond is passionate about telling his story as an artist and athlete and using it to inspire young people. He’s been active in the Oklahoma City arts community, and now we look forward to him being involved on a statewide level.” Sharples said.

Mason has been involved in the Oklahoma City arts scene since retiring from a 10-year career in the National Basketball Association where he played for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder among other teams. As a student-athlete at Oklahoma State University, Mason majored in Studio Art. He works out of his studio in Oklahoma City’s Midtown district. In 2004, Mason founded the Desmond Mason Art Show to raise funds for local charities.

Mason’s appointment was approved by the state Senate in May.

Amber Sharples was named the OAC Executive Director in late May. She replaced Kim Baker, who announced her resignation in March. Sharples has been on staff with the Council since 2006. Originally hired as visual arts director, Sharples was promoted to assistant director in 2011.

Oklahoma Arts Council board chair James Pickel said Sharples’ experience as assistant director and visual arts director made her an ideal candidate for the position.

“Amber brings a broad range of experience to her new role,” Pickel said. “In addition to overseeing the Council’s curatorial and education staff, she has written successful grants, managed significant art collections, and served as the agency’s liaison on boards and commissions such as the State Capitol Preservation Commission, Friends of the Capitol, and Friends of the Mansion.”

As assistant director Sharples spearheaded the agency’s strategic planning process, managed staff evaluations, and developed policies and procedures.

During her stint as visual arts director, Sharples’ efforts earned the agency a grant for assessing the conservation needs of the Oklahoma state Capitol and the Capitol artwork. Sharples managed the commissioning and dedication of several new works for the Capitol Art Collection including a portrait of civil rights historian Dr. John Hope Franklin, a mural commemorating the state’s centennial, and a bust of Governor Brad Henry for the Hall of Governors.

Sharples holds a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of Oklahoma and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care from The George Washington University. Prior to working for the Council, Sharples served in the public affairs office at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Culture in Mexico City.

Sharples was selected after a nationwide search. Baker served the Council for 20 years and recently relocated to St. Louis.

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